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Title: Resilience to disaster: locating social capital in the life recovery of flood victims
Authors: Akbar, Muhammad Siddique
Keywords: Social Sciences
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: University of the Punjab , Lahore
Abstract: Although undesirable, disasters offer us many lessons to learn. They provide us a unique opportunity to dip into deeper structure of the societies. Disasters tend to unravel the social structure of the society and expose their strengths and weaknesses. They help us to untake the everyday taken for granted world. Disasters create a situation of social crisis and chaos among affected individuals and communities. Unequal power structure and deep rooted socioeconomic inequalities further aggravate the impacts of catastrophic events. A disaster of same magnitude may hit the people in different way. After undergoing a catastrophic disaster; some people recover at a greater pace while others lag behind. The differential disaster recovery is attributable to the social characteristics of the disaster hit communities. This cross-sectional study was conducted to understand the life recovery of the victims affected by 2010 catastrophic floods in Pakistan. The study was carried out in Muzaffargarh district of the Punjab province. During 2010, a mega flood disaster hit Pakistan. Muzaffargarh was one of the worst disaster affected district of the Punjab. The reason is that this district is flanked by two major rivers namely, The Chenab and The Indus (Sindh) at its east and west sides respectively. Unusual heavy rain falls and rapid melting of snow at the glaciers made these rivers overflow with water. The consequence was a catastrophic flood that inundated a huge area of this district and swept heavily through physical as well as social infrastructure. The study employed a mixed methodology of social research using both quantitative and qualitative approaches to draw the data. A sample of 493 flood victims was drawn and face to face interviews were conducted with all the heads of selected household. The overall response rate was 91.3%. During quantitative phase structured interviews were conducted with the flood victims while during qualitative phase of the research in-depth interviews were conducted.iii The major objective of the study was to see the level of life recovery of the flood victims after two years of the disaster and to investigate whether social capital has explanatory power for the life recovery of the respondents. In order to measure the life recovery of flood victims’ Life Recovery Scale was used. While social capital was measured by Post disaster Inventory of Received Social Support, Perceived Leadership Effectiveness Scale, Trust Scale and Post-disaster Community Cohesion Scale. In addition to these in order to measure the disaster experience of the flood victims, psychological trauma and material loss incurred by the flood were measured. Besides this the flood victims were asked about perceived fairness in the distribution of disaster aid and the flood victims’ involvement in recovery and rehabilitation related decisions. Detailed socio-demographic information of the respondents was taken into account to get a better comprehension of the life recovery phenomenon. The results of the study showed that out of 450 respondents interviewed, 258 (57.3%) respondents reported that their lives were recovering. A considerable number 120 (26.7%) of the respondents were ambivalent about their life recovery progress while 72 (16%) respondents categorically reported that their lives were not recovering. The study unveiled that majority of the respondents received social support from their family, friends and relatives. The study revealed that the respondents’ level of trust did increase in their friends and relatives and the level of trust had diminished in the federal government and district government after the flood experience. Majority of the respondents evaluated the performance of local political leadership negatively and also reported low level of perceived community cohesion after the disaster recovery experience. The flood affectees who received high level of social support, had positive opinion about political leadership, showed high level of trust, expressed high level of post-flood community cohesion and also reported that they were on their way to life recovery. By contrast, the respondents who received low social support, they also evaluated political leadership negatively, reported low level of trust and community cohesion and reported low level of life recovery or were ambivalent about their recovery status. iv Majority of flood victims revealed that the distribution of disaster aid during recovery period was unfair and their voices were not heard. A considerable number of flood victims reported that they were not satisfied with their current dwellings (home instability) as they had not been able to repair or reconstruct their damaged or destroyed homes as compared to pre-flood days. The study explored that perceived unfairness in the distribution of disaster aid, lack of flood victims’ involvement in recovery process, psychological trauma, material loss and home instability affected the life recovery feelings and social capital perceptions of the flood victims. The flood victims’ perceptions of the social capital and level of life recovery were determined by their socio-demographic characteristics. The respondents with higher level of education, more annual income, greater amount of landholdings and more heads of livestock and having small family scored high on social capital scales and life recovery scale. The study concluded that both social capital and life recovery were differentially distributed among the flood disaster victims. Although the flood victims showed resilience in the wake of disaster as they used flood as an opportunity to help one another and increased the mutual help, yet the deep rooted socio-economic inequalities and particularly the power structure inherent in flood affected communities prevented the marginalised section of the society to recover at same pace as compared to the more privileged community members. The study unveiled that disasters may not be completely destructive. The flood disaster led to erosion of community level social capital yet, it also enhanced the informal level of social capital among the flood affected people. The study contains important policy and practice lessons for disaster risk reduction and disaster management
Gov't Doc #: 21564
Appears in Collections:PhD Thesis of All Public / Private Sector Universities / DAIs.

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